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With even French President Macron a Fan, speaker startup Devialet ready to dominate the market


French startup Devialet recently displayed its groundbreaking Phantom speakers at the InnoVEX 2017 exhibition in Taipei. Part of “La French Tech Pavilion,” the company’s revolutionary approach to wireless audio solutions wowed the audience in Taipei.

Marking a first step towards entering the local market, Devialet also set up a popup store inside the Taipei 101. There, the public can experience Devialet’s innovative ADH Intelligence solution for sound amplification.

One of the foremost representatives of “La French Tech,” the startup has quickly found fans from all over the world. Be it the Taiwanese Foxconn tycoon Terry Gou or Jay-Z, Devialet’s investors include a who’s who of the technology and music industry.

What’s more, Apple has announced Devialet as a partner for the Cupertino-based firm’s new AirPlay 2 standard at this year’s Worldwide Developer Conference.

The reasons for Devialet’s success are not only the unprecedented quality of its wireless speaker system, which is manufactured in France and is protected by no less than 108 patents. What’s more, the stunning design and ease of use situate the Phantom series firmly at the center of a new lifestyle that combines the convenience provided by wireless technologies with the analog quality so cherished by audiophiles.

Business Next/Meet recently had the chance to sit down with Devialet’s chairman and chief technology officer M. Pierre Emmanuel Calmel in Taipei for an exclusive interview. Here, the Frenchman shares his experiences, what makes their tech so cutting edge, as well as his recommendations for startup founders.

Enlightening audiophiles

Devialet was founded in 2007 by Quentin Sannié, Emmanuel Nardin, and Pierre Emmanuel Calmel. Hinting at the Enlightenment spirit, the company’s name derives from the French engineer and companion of philosopher Denis Diderot, Sieur de Vialet.

While Sannié is the businessman of the trio, and Nardin responsible for the Phantom’s exquisite design, Calmel is the mastermind behind the company’s class-leading amplification technology.

Born in Versailles, France, Calmel has been longing to create something lasting for as long as he could think. An audiophile himself with a special knack for saxophone music, he dedicated himself to creating a speaker that would deliver fantastic sound and stay true to the music.

ADH and the Phantom – a new standard

Caption:With even French President Macron a Fan, speaker startup Devialet ready to dominate the market.

Initially working at French telecom company Notel Matra Communication, Calmel soon left to devote himself exclusively to the development of a new communication standard for amplification.

He spent four years in his garage to invent and fine-tune what would become the heart of Devialet’s speaker, the ADH Intelligence technology. To this day, Calmel is thankful for his family’s enduring support, without which it would have been impossible to succeed, as he admits.

ADH stands for Analog Digital Hybrid and aims to preserve the precision of traditional amplifiers while adding the power of newer solutions. Devialet claims that their proprietary hybrid technology is the first to fuse Class A and Class D amplification to reproduce sound of unprecedented quality wirelessly.

Within Devialet’s Phantom speakers, ADH is employed to introduce a new level of clarity, precision, and power. Dubbed the “best wireless speaker in the world,” the Phantom wants to become the go-to equipment for audiophiles around the world.

Asked about the origin of the name Phantom, Calmel replied that “Devialet hopes that different types of music can amplify the users’ feeling, like a phantom that is moving around your ear and produces different types of joyfulness.”

Spearheading “La French Tech”

Caption: President of France, Emmanuel Macron.

One person that already derives joy from the Phantom speaker is newly-elected French president Emmanuel Macron. The political wunderkind was photographed in his office, with one of Devialet’s beautiful speakers visibly on display next to him.

Asked about his feelings when seeing this picture, Calmel admitted to being immensely proud. He then shared a story about the company’s relation to Macron prior to his recent political ascension.

“We met Macron two years ago, when he was still the Minister of Economy and Finance. He has always been a great supporter of La French Tech. With Devialet being one of the leaders among French startups, Macron got himself a Phantom at that time. We are very honored that he remains an avid user to this day!” Calmel said proudly.

Expanding in Taiwan

Devialet’s connections to Taiwan are truly manifold. Beyond the warm reception the company has received at the InnoVEX 2017 exhibition, one of the company’s crucial investors, Terry Gou, also hails from the island nation.

Unsurprisingly, the French startup hopes to establish a permanent representation in Taipei soon in the form of a flagship store, Calmel asserted.

While they do not have an exact schedule just yet, interested readers can visit Devialet’s popup store in the Taipei 101 until August.

Asked about his experience as an entrepreneur, Calmel found encouraging words for startup founders. “When you are young, you have to try everything worthwhile” said Pierre.

Calmel’s personal story may be sufficient inspiration already, as he is living this positive attitude. “When working on things you have faith in,” he said, “you need to keep pushing. Just do it!” Without this firm attitude, which his co-founders share, Devialet would not have been able to herald a new revolution of sound.

Feliciana Hsu
English journalist and PR for Global Affairs

Feliciana gained her MSc of Media Power and Public Affairs from Royal Holloway, University of London.

After graduating from London, she started her career of being journalist at Business Next Media and Meet Startup @TW Website, and specializes in interviewing about innovation and technology.

Within her career, she has interviewed various experts in their field, including Mr.Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia; Fleur Pellerin, former French Minister of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and Sir Christopher Pissarides, Nobel Prize Laureate in Economic in 2010.